Snowboarder triggers backcountry avalanche
December 21, 2012
Wednesday morning, after completing a run down a backcountry slope known as Dutch Draw on the ridgeline above the Snyderville Basin, three experienced local snowboarders looked up to see another person begin to descend.
According to a first-person report on the Utah Avalanche Center’s website, the descending snowboarder made several turns, which triggered the release of a large slab of snow. The three also noted with great concern that two others were waiting below in the slide’s path. They yelled to warn them as the slide gathered momentum. The first observer also quickly took a few pictures to landmark where they were standing.
"From my vantage point, the snow and cloud engulfed the two boarders," his report reads.
The pictures, he said, later helped searchers determine that no one had been caught in the avalanche.
When the snow settled, the people at the bottom of the run were unharmed, but Summit County Search and Rescue crews who happened to be training in the area conducted their own evaluation. According to the Summit County Sheriff’s office, air ambulances with equipment that can detect signals from avalanche beacons flew over the scene and a Search and Rescue team used probes to search for victims with probes.
According to the Avalanche Center, the slide occurred at an altitude of 9,800 feet on a 36-degree east-facing slope. It was 300 feet wide, two and a half feet deep and ran 700 feet before stopping.
The avalanche occurred on land owned by the U.S. Forest Service. Loyal Clark of the Forest Service confirmed the backcountry travelers triggered the avalanche and said none was caught in the slide and none was injured.
The slide occurred south of the Ninety-Nine 90 Express lift at Canyons in an area outside of the resort’s boundaries. According to Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds, the people involved rode the lift to access the terrain.
The snowboarders had to travel through a gate clearly stating they were crossing outside of the resort boundary.